An open solution

EXAMINATION

An open solution

In order to assess a student’s performance there needs to be a system of testing.  In the present system, the evaluation process awards marks or grades commensurate with each student’s performance.

Though some systems are equipped with checking the performance both of curricular and co-curricular activities, in general, performance in examinations, either semester or annual, is the criteria for awarding the final grade.

This is followed at all levels of education. The questions prepared are not objective or task-oriented. Students are only repeating what they have memorised before the examination. As marks/grades are the criteria for higher studies or for employment, every student concentrates on scoring high marks.

Parents and schools, through their teachers, place the burden on vulnerable students. From the year 2000 onwards, every job aspirant only thinks of finding IT-related employment. This has led to every home becoming an R&D laboratory where children are tried and tested to achieve this goal.

Such a mind-tuning prohibits the growth of any natural talent latent in the child.  Very few parents tread a different path. Two of my friends who are brilliant engineers in their vocation did not insist that their children follow in their footsteps. Instead, one of them pursued a career in transport and tourism, and another is pursuing her post-graduation in physiotherapy.

However, many times parents put pressure on their children to pursue careers of their choice. In such a situation, not all children will be able to bear the pressure, resulting in their careers being short-circuited.

The present system of examination has also given rise to copying or other fraudulent activities. Though this number appears to be small it does not augur well when the ultimate goal is good, fair and quality education.

Need for change
When it comes to change in the present examination system there needs to be an over hauling of the education system itself.  However difficult it may be, a change is necessary. There are several methods which are in vogue in other countries which includes the Open Book System.

This system when applied in the right spirit can become a trendsetter in the field of education. It can enhance the students’ quality of learning even as their application-based knowledge increases.

As the name suggests, in the Open Book System, students are allowed to carry text books to the examination hall. Before such exams, teachers are expected to teach the theoretical aspects of the subject thoroughly, well loaded with practical and topical examples.

This enables students to go in search of more such examples, applicable to the theory. The questions are framed in such a way as to test the practical knowledge of the students. Though this looks like a new phenomenon, the concept was tried on an experimental basis in the 70’s itself by the renowned educationalist, H Narasimhiah, when he was the principal of National College, Bangalore.

This was done at the mid-term class examinations and text books were allowed inside the examination hall while invigilators were absent.  At that time, his idea was to help students take the examination without fear or anxiety. This may also have been carried out as a solution to the problem of copying which was rampant at that time at the University level.

In the Open Book System there is no fear as students are confident that they have a text book to refer to during the examination. Here, the chances of copying are nil. The system helps students learn the subject thoroughly through reference books or notes which will also enable them to prepare an ideal answer to each question.

However, they should be clear on what books to carry into the examination hall. Here too, they should be well-versed in the subject or else their time in the examination hall will be wasted in finding the correct answer from the books they carry. This system has its own short comings. As only a few books are allowed, the students may find it difficult to express everything they have learnt.

Though this system appears to be time and energy consuming for both the teachers as well as students, it is worth considering, as the ultimate beneficiaries are the students whose application-based knowledge is enhanced. In a vast country like ours, a majority of students come from the rural or lower economic strata. They need quality education that can help them keep abreast of their urban peers.

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